Chapter 5

“Mulder, we need to talk.”

He frowns, signing off on an expense report before looking up to find her standing in front of his desk. “Huh? Oh, sorry I ate the last doughnut. You and the peanut have been going heavy on the baked goods. I’m not judging,” he says, holding up his hands. “A guy’s gotta be quick if he wants to get a bite.”

“That’s not what this is about,” she says, narrowing her eyes. She puts one hand at her waist, swaying close enough for her belly to nudge his nameplate backwards across his desk. “I’m taking leave in four weeks, and we haven’t found you a new partner.”

“That’s because I don’t need a new partner,” he says, opening a second report for show.

“Mulder, do you have any idea how much paperwork I’ve done in the last six years? Do you remember how long it took me to sort the X-Files into a system that wasn’t just piles of paper on the floor?”

“I have my own system.”

“Oh? Where would you find the report for the Farrington case?”

“Scully, I don’t have time for this—“

“You don’t know,” she says. “You have no idea what the filing system is because I’ve been doing it since I got here.”

“It’s…it’s under the F’s,” he sighs.

“It’s under M, for ‘mystical psychosis.’ You’ll be lost before the kid is born, Mulder.”

“It’s only three months.”

She sighs, pulling over a chair, lowering herself into it with a groan. “Kersh is insisting you interview the candidates starting tomorrow, or he’s going to assign someone himself. You don’t want him to do that. You need to look at these applications, find the least offensive résumé, and make a recommendation.”

He bites his lip, rolling a pencil between his thumb and forefinger, considers chucking it at the ceiling in frustration.

She continues, “More to the point…I don’t like the idea of you being alone down here, Mulder. It’s not good for you.”

“I did alright before they sent you,” he lies.

“Mulder,” she says, in that tone that suggests he’s already lost the battle. She hands him the sheaf of dossiers. “The top three are the ones I’d consider. All new transfers with no prior history in DC, so they’re less likely to have connections. The guy from New York looks promising, but you need to make the final decision. Kersh wants your selections on his desk no later than Monday.”

“I’m more likely to see Elvis doing the pop n’ lock on this desk than I am to see Kersh accept a request from me,” he mutters, but he picks up the first folder in the stack and opens it.

She sighs, but there’s the hint of a smile on her lips. “Promise me you’ll give them a chance, Elvis or not.”

“The last time they assigned me a partner, I got Krycek,” he says. “And you saw how that turned out.”

“Not everyone is Krycek, Mulder.”

“Yeah, but they’re not you, either.”

There’s a pause, a rustling as she folds her hands over her abdomen. “Well, I guess you shouldn’t have knocked me up.”

His head snaps up, jaw dropping open without his permission.

She smiles, victorious. “Monday, Mulder. No later.”